Fri, Sep 06, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Dorian regains strength, US landfall possible

CATEGORY 3:More than 2.2 million people have been ordered to evacuate as South Carolina prepares for a record storm surge and about 30cm of rain

Reuters, NASSAU

Hurricane Dorian left stretches of the Bahamas looking as if they had been carpet bombed and was regaining strength as it ground up the US Atlantic coast, possibly making landfall later yesterday in South Carolina.

The UN said that 70,000 people in the Bahamas needed immediate humanitarian relief after the most damaging storm ever to hit the island nation.

Aerial video of the worst-hit Abaco Islands showed widespread devastation, with the harbor, shops, workplaces, a hospital and airport landing strips damaged or blown to pieces, all of which was frustrating rescue efforts.

One of the most powerful Caribbean storms on record, the Category 5 hurricane killed at least 20 people in the Bahamas.

Authorities expected that number to rise, Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told a news conference, as retreating floodwaters revealed the scope of the destruction.

With many telephones down, residents posted lists of missing loved ones on social media.

In the US, South Carolina was preparing for a record storm surge, potentially reaching 2m at the popular vacation destination of Myrtle Beach, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in an advisory.

About 30cm of rain was to drop on flood-prone Charleston, South Carolina, and many parts of the coasts of the Carolinas yesterday and today, said Bob Oravec, a forecaster with the US National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

“It’s pretty substantial,” he said. “It’s already raining heavily in Charleston, and up and down the coast,” he said yesterday.

Dorian was predicted to move near or over the coast of South Carolina later yesterday and then North Carolina overnight, forecasters said.

At 2am, Dorian was about 170km south of Charleston, South Carolina, the NHC said.

It late on Wednesday strengthened to regain its status as a Category 3 storm with winds of 185kph after passing over warm waters, which drive hurricane intensity, the NHC said.

The center issued a storm surge warning that covered the whole length of the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, extending to Hampton Roads in southern Virginia.

More than 2.2 million people in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina have been ordered to evacuate, although Florida has avoided a direct hit.

An international relief effort was under way for the Bahamas, with a British Royal Navy vessel providing assistance and Jamaica sending a 150-member military contingent to help secure Abaco and Grand Bahama, officials said.

“Let us give of our best in this moment of historic tragedy,” Minnis said.

He also encouraged international tourists to visit the Bahamas, which relies heavily on its hospitality industry.

As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas might have been destroyed or severely damaged, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

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